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Kennesaw State’s triple option hopes to outlast Wofford’s

May the best triple-option team win.

After a first-round bye, Kennesaw State will host Wofford in the second round of the FCS playoffs at 2 p.m. Saturday at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.

While the two offenses will look similar,  as both run the triple option, Kennesaw State coach Brian Bohannon was quick to point out the differences. 

The Southern Conference champions, Wofford uses more of a shotgun variation in its execution of the triple option, Bohannon said, while the Owls typically have their quarterback under center.

“There’s some similar stuff they do. They’re going to run the football. That’s who they are,” Bohannon said. “We are going to try to run the football, too. That’s who we are. ... We go about it a little bit differently than they do, but I think it will be two really good football teams going at it.”

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Wofford (9-3) enters Saturday averaging 31 points, 332 rushing yards and 112 passing yards while scoring touchdowns in 38 of 47 trips to the red zone.

Kennesaw State’s defense will be one of the more restrictive defenses Wofford has faced this season, as the Owls have limited opponents to 14.8 points and 110.6 rushing yards. Kennesaw State’s opponents have scored touchdowns in only 54.5 percent of their red-zone possessions.

While the Owls’ defense has proved itself capable of limiting opponents’ run games this season — allowing opposing offenses seven total rushing touchdowns during the regular season — Wofford is coming off a first-round win against Elon, when they racked up 364 total yards, 344 on the ground.

Bohannon said Tuesday his team will be challenged against the Terriers’ large running backs, two quarterbacks and star wide receiver, but ultimately, the game will come down to which offense can outlast the other.

“I don’t think there’s going to be a ton of mystery of where either side is,” Bohannon said. “It’s going to be who can execute, who can take care of the football, who can convert third downs, who can get people off the field on third down and be sound on special teams.”

The Owls (10-1) outmatch the Terriers in points scored (48.6) and the run game (373.9). Kennesaw State also enters Saturday with 55 trips into the red zone this season, scoring touchdowns in 43 of those possessions.

In their third consecutive year in the FCS playoffs, the Terriers have allowed opponents an average of 99.1 rushing yards and less than 20 points each game with a high of 23 against Western Carolina. In the red zone, Wofford has allowed opponents to score on 25 of 32 trips into red zone and score touchdowns on 22.

While Wofford outweighs Kennesaw State in postseason experience with nine playoff appearances since 2003, Bohannon hopes the Owls’ one postseason game last season carries some weight during Saturday’s matchup at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. 

In 2017, Kennesaw State reached the FCS playoffs for the first time, advancing to the quarterfinals, where the team lost to Sam Houston State 34-27.

“I do think it helps, there’s no question about it. ... It’s not anything I’ll bring up, but they understand,” Bohannon said of the Owls’ experience in the playoffs. “They remember the playoffs last year and what it entails, what it’s about and how it all works, so I think our kids understand that, and I do think that experience a huge benefit.”

The Kennesaw State-Wofford will play the winner of the South Dakota State-Duquesne game in the quarterfinals. 

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